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Holly refinery cuts pollution in updated expansion plan

Published May 22, 2013 3:27 pm

EPA, doctors' group had asked for emissions cuts.
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Utahns will be asked soon to weigh in on HollyFrontier Corp.'s latest plans to expand its Woods Cross refinery — plans that include more pollution controls.

The Utah Division of Air Quality is revisiting Holly's expansion application, which this time includes new electric-powered compressor motors instead of natural gas-powered ones. The change, which Dallas-based Holly says will cut key air pollutants by 172 tons a year, is expected to beput out for public review beginning next month.

"We are pleased to make this announcement and this significant investment in our refinery and our community," said Mike Wright, vice president and Holly refinery manager in a news release.

The new proposed reductions are being proposed after the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment complained about Holly's pollution reduction accounting. The group said the refinery was wrong to count emissions cuts that were already required by a 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency consent decree as reductions associated with the expansion.

Joro Walker, an attorney representing the doctors' group, noted EPA also raised the consent-decree issue in public comments fielded by state regulators when the original permit went out for public comment earlier this year.

"It vindicates our position that more reductions needed to be made," she said. "There are emission reductions out there to be had" by expanding refineries.

Marty Gray, a state air quality regulator who is overseeing the Holly expansion requests, said the state will have a 45-day public comment period probably beginning next month. A public hearing is also planned.

"We assume there will be some interest" from the public, he said.

Holly said Wednesday it is close to wrapping up its $250 million modernization, which includes refinery updates required under the consent decree. Plus, the first phase of the pending "black wax" project — an expansion that will allow the company to refine a tarry crude from the Uinta Basin — is expected to cost around $225 million and more than double the Woods Cross refinery's production to 60,000 barrels a day.

The company estimates its overall pollution reductions from both the modernization and the expansion will be around 779 tons.

"We are committed to being proactive and transparent in communicating information about our project and the refinery," said Wright. "We try very hard to be a responsible business within the community.


Twitter: @judyfutah




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